Parkland Report; Schools' Defense Spending; Quote of the Week

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Good morning, it’s Friday, January 25, 2019. Today’s Quote of the Week comes from Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to serve in Congress. On this date in 1972, she announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

“I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud,” Chisholm said. “I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I’m equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests. I stand here now, without endorsements from many big-name politicians or celebrities or any other kind of prop. …I am the candidate of the people of America!”

I’ll have more on this remarkable woman -- and some of her other memorable lines -- in a moment. First I’d direct you to our front page, which aggregates an array of columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

School Safety Panel Said to Pull Punches on Parkland Shooting. In RealClearInvestigations, Paul Sperry reports that Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions failed to blame lenient Obama-era discipline policies out of fear of being labeled racists.

Now Schools Have Defense Budgets. Also in RCI, Steve Miller finds that security sells in school districts around the country after the Florida school massacre nearly a year ago.

A Greener New Deal: CO2eight. In RealClearEnergy, Mark Mackie proposes a plan that he says would reduce carbon, taxes, and poverty. 

Why China Is the World’s “Factory Floor.” RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny argues that the Trump administration’s protectionist policies are rooted in a flawed understanding of how the world works.

Are College Accreditors Improving Student Outcomes? In RealClearPolicy, Michael Itzkowitz examines how well accredited institutions are doing to improve the graduation rates of their students.

10 Warships That Simply Disappeared. Brandon Christensen compiled this list in RealClearHistory.

* * *

The Democrats’ 1972 presidential nomination went to George McGovern, who carried one state against Richard Nixon. Shirley Chisholm couldn’t have done much worse.

Christened Shirley Anita St. Hill, she was born November 30, 1924, the oldest of four daughters. Her father was a factory worker from Guyana, her mother a seamstress from Barbados.

Her parents settled in Brooklyn, where Shirley was born into a household where education was valued -- and the oldest child excelled in school. Shirley graduated from Brooklyn College with honors, taught pre-school, served as a director of two day-care centers, and went to Columbia University for a master’s in early childhood education.

Elected to New York’s state legislature in 1964, she was in her second term in Albany when she ran for a newly districted congressional seat in Brooklyn.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” she’d announce over a bullhorn as she walked through precincts, “this is fighting Shirley Chisholm coming through.” If she was campaigning in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which had become 20 percent Hispanic, she’d announce herself in Spanish, which she spoke fluently.

In the traumatic year of 1968, she won the Democratic primary less than two weeks after Bobby Kennedy was martyred, and then romped in the general election. “Just wait,” she said after winning, “there may be some fireworks.” Some of the themes Chisholm ran on seem contemporary, as does her attitude when she arrived in Washington.

“I have no intention of just sitting quietly and observing,” she said in response to those who wanted Chisholm to wait her turn. “I intend to focus attention on the nation’s problems.” Her first floor speech was in opposition to the Vietnam War.

She was given an unglamorous seat on the Agriculture Committee, an assignment she protested to the House leadership, which relented and put her on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It wasn’t her first choice, or her second, but she made the best of it. “There are a lot more veterans in my district than trees,” she quipped.

Unbought and unbossed” was her campaign slogan. It was true, too, and these words would be the title of her autobiography and are carved on her gravestone.

In 1982, she declined to run for re-election, returning to her original career, education. Before she left, she shared her parting thoughts with a reporter from the Associated Press. “I've always met more discrimination being a woman than being black,” she said. “When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men.”

Her entire January 25, 1972 presidential announcement speech can be seen here, courtesy of C-SPAN. If that whets your appetite for other speeches by other women, this spring a new repository of them will be available to the public.

This project, called the Keynote Women Speech Bank, is the brainchild of Dana Rubin, a former colleague of mine from our old California newspapering days. Dana, who is also toiling personally to get it set up, tells me that if you click on the link, you can be signed up for notification when the site officially launches.

While you wait you can read Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography. “I want history to remember me -- not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of The United States,” Chisholm wrote, “but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.”  

Carl M. Cannon 
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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